Organize Tomorrow Today (Part 3)

Org tomorrow todayWhen it comes to managing our time, we want to establish great habits and get rid of bad habits.  Easier said than done.

Organize Tomorrow Today helps us with habit-changing.  Here are three stages in making or breaking a habit:

The Honeymoon Stage

You have decided to make or break a habit.  The first few days are usually easy, hence the word “honeymoon.”  For me, it is writing these articles.  I love to teach; however, writing is another story.  When I decided to do this book summary, writing the first article came fairly easy.  However, as I write this article today, I am actually on vacation.  Yes, I am writing during my vacation because the honeymoon stage has faded away and now I am in the next stage.

The Fight-thru Stage

This stage is when I realized that the “easier said than done” reality kicks in.  I need to make this habit of writing a second nature.  Here is how I can make this happen:

  1. Make it a ritual.  I cannot leave writing to chance or procrastination will take over.  I need to set the same time, every day to write.
  2. Recognize.  In this step, I realize that making a habit takes time and it is hard work.  There will be times when I want to give up (always) and instead I must remind myself that it is important to win ….today.  I cannot worry about tomorrow – I just need to write today.  I’ll let tomorrow take care of itself. This is called the “fight-thru” stage.  If I can just get through today, then my next fight-thru (tomorrow) will be easier (I hope).  But, if it is really difficult, then I can take the next action.
  3. Ask two questions.  This is when the tough time comes and I will coach myself with two questions.  I will ask myself:  “Joan, how will you feel if you lose?”  This question definitely will bring emotion into the equation, which is a valuable kind of fuel.  My next question will also be an emotional one, “How will I feel if I win this fight-thru?”  Well, you guessed it; I’d feel great and probably motivated for tomorrow.  Both the negative and the positive question will help propel me.
  4. Life Projection.  This is when I use my imagination.  I take 30 seconds and I think in great detail about where my life will be in five years if I make this change and consistently win.  Now this is a powerful motivator for me!

Second Nature Stage

Here is the success stage.  After I have won a series of fight-thrus, it starts to become easier and part of my routine.  I feel great.  When I think about this stage, it makes me think of a success story I had several years ago – and I am still successful! Several years ago we got our dog “Winnie”.  I wanted to be a good dog owner, so I decided that I would make it a habit to walk “Winnie” every morning, regardless of weather or work commitment. So, every morning, regardless if it is raining or sunny or snowing….I walk my dog.  If I have to catch an early flight in the morning, I will faithfully get up at 3 a.m. to walk “Winnie” because of this established habit.  It has become my second nature.

Habit changing is tough work

The authors do warn us about the “discouragement monster”, that can sap our willingness to keep trying.  Sometimes, just recognizing that this happen and recognize that I can backslide, I will then choose to do “a little bit more, for a little while.”  For me, this might mean that my furry little four legged friend gets two walks on the same day.  Lucky Winnie!  Successful Joan.

Posted in Self-leadership

Organize Tomorrow Today (Part 2)

Not-for-profit organizations often have “hands-on working” boards, whose members are called on to chair sub-committees. This is the case of one of the boards that I currently serve on.

Prior to a recent board meeting, while reading through Organize Tomorrow Today, I felt that the ideas in the book were so critical that I wanted to share them with my fellow board members.

Here are some of the key points we discussed

  1. Stop multi-tasking.  Although many of us attempt to multi-task, when we do so we divide ourOrg tomorrow today attention, trying to do more than one thing at the same time. When we multi-task, we use a lot more energy and time to get things done. We end up compromising our attention and therefore more apt to miss some of the finer details of important tasks.
  2. Choose wisely.  The concept of choosing wisely sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s not easy because it’s counterintuitive.  It’s often easier to put a list together of all the possible things you need to get done than it is to actually choose your one most important task and then master it.
  3. The power of one.  When we focus on one primary task it makes action much more realistic. One simple, positive change can build momentum and it will often prime us for the next success. “Focusing on one thing promotes action.  Learn to do less, but more often.”
  4. Say “no.”  This is a hard one for me. Like the authors say, I will often confuse “urgent” with “important” and say yes to so many urgent things. When I say “yes” too often, I am saying “no” to other things that are much more important.

During a time of informal sharing, our board discussion moved from mentioning a few ideas to in-depth questions around productivity and time management/priority setting tips.

Maybe this might be an idea for you at your next board meeting.

Posted in Self-leadership

Organize Tomorrow Today (Part 1)

Org tomorrow todayMy dad was a docking foreman of large ships for Rivtow Straits.  As a foreman, he was responsible to dock gigantic ships and make repairs.

As a child, dad would bring me to the shipyard and show me these gigantic ships.  Although he would explain many parts of this enormous ship to me, all I recall now is how powerful the small rudder was that steered the enormous ship. This small rudder kept the ship on course through calm and stormy seas.

Time management is like the rudder on a ship. It is a tool that can steer us through the calm and storms of life.  Just as a rudder is a crucial part of the ship, the ability manage time is a crucial part of our lives.

Time Management is a Learned Skill

A skill is strengthened through repetition. As we daily make a conscious attempt to control and allocate time toward things that matter most in our lives, we actually accomplish more. However, if this skill is not practiced daily, our lives will be busy but not productive.

Organize Tomorrow Today

In Organize Tomorrow Today Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow propose some great skill-building ideas on time management. I highly recommend it!

Over the next few weeks, I will share some ideas from Organize Tomorrow Today in an effort to encourage you to keep building your important skill of managing time.

Here are a few key ideas to get started:

  1. Try to do less. Miller’s Law says that people can only process up to seven concepts at a given time.  Therefore, when it comes to time management if we want to accomplish more, we need to shorten our daily to-do list and focus on key tasks.
  2. Prioritize your work.  Each day select 3 important tasks and 1 must do task.  Indicate the time of day that you want to accomplish the tasks by and try for doing it earlier in the day.
  3. Lose the computer (maybe). Write your tasks longhand rather than record them on a computer. There is scientific evidence that writing out your list by hand will help your subconscious mind to get to work on those written tasks. Now if you are like my husband and this is just too much for you because of your devotion to your Outlook or some other digital planner, you can opt out, but think about it. Maybe an experiment?

I find it helpful to have an appointment diary that has the week at-a-glance and a place to record my Master to-do list for the week.  Then, each day, I review my master list and select 3 important tasks for the day and then the 1 must do task.  I record these 4 items on a small post-it note and stick it in the appointment diary.  As I complete each of the tasks, I stroke it out.  Once the 4 tasks are completed for the day – then I can select any other task I’d like to conquer.  I am amazed, by the end of the week – I have accomplished over 28 tasks.



Posted in Self-leadership Tagged with:

5 Tips to Grow Your Business Through Creative Thinking

Broadcaster Terry O’Reilly told a great story about David Phillips in California.

“He noticed Healthy Choice chocolate pudding was having a promotion. For every 10 barcodes sent in, the buyer would get 500 Air Miles. On top of that, there was an early-bird offer – anyone redeeming barcodes in the first month got double the Air Miles. Therefore, every 10 barcodes got him 1,000 Air Miles.

Think big!

Phillips scoured his town and discovered a discount grocery chain selling Healthy Choice chocolate pudding for only 25 cents each. Meaning – for $2.50, he would get 1,000 Air Miles. So he crossed town and bought up all the chocolate pudding he could find.

Then came the tough part – peeling the barcodes off hundreds of pudding cups.

He and his family started developing blisters – until Phillips had another idea.

He approached the Salvation Army and asked for volunteers to peel the barcodes. In return, he would donate all the chocolate pudding to them. The Sally Ann said sure. That little move also got Phillips an $800 charitable tax deduction.

In the end, Phillips spent $3,000 on the pudding. puddingBut get a load of this: In return, he got 1.2 million Air Miles. That gave the Phillips family lifetime access to the American Airlines Advantage Gold Club, and he’s now earning miles five times faster than he can spend them even though he’s travelling extensively.

He’ll never have to pay for another flight again in his life. And all for spending $3,000 to gain Air Miles.”

When it comes to creative thinking – the proof is in the pudding.

How can you promote creative thinking?

  1. Welcome innovative out-of-the box thinking. This will signal to everyone how much you value creative thinking, and should go a long way toward promoting innovation in the workplace. Would you have bought $3,000 worth of pudding?
  2. Remember that if everyone is thinking alike, that means no-body’s thinking! Encourage curiosity or questions!
  3. Reward failure. One organization gave $20 at their weekly staff meeting to the employee who the biggest failure trying a new idea. In a lot of organizations if someone tries something risky or creative and fails,they will be reminded of their failure over and over.
  4. Disallow evaluation during brainstorming.Disallowing criticism and critique of ideas during brainstorming promotes the freedom to say the most outrageous things. But that is the environment in which you care most likely to strike gold.
  5. Hire people different from you. The temptation is always to surround yourself with “yes” people that think just like you. But the greatest leaders are not afraid to hire people that will challenge them.
Posted in Leadership, Management

5 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress

A blue button with the word Change on it

The world is changing faster than ever. But one thing has never changed: people don’t like change! Change causes stress.

  • It can make them feel like they are losing control
  • It can threaten to remove comfort zones.
  • It can leave them feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

If you want to successfully lead individuals or organizations through change you need to know that people do not process change all at once. They do it in stages.

And if you understand those stages you can better gauge your organization’s attitude. You will also have leverage to increase buy-in, and to ensure a smoother transition.

There is a difference between the change event and the time leading up to it and following it.

Change is the objective event that occurs at a particular point or over a period of time.

  • It might be a new policy or reporting structure.
  • Or it could involve launching a new product or service.

The change event is generally what everyone in the organization focuses on. And that is where organizations can get into trouble.

In the Managing Change workshop I explain that in addition to the change event there are critical adjustment stages through which most people pass before they fully buy-in to organizational change. And as a manager, you need to know what those stages are. This is critical, because as Mark Sandborn says, “Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business.”

5 Ways to Reduce Stress Through Organizational Change

Organizational change is a leading cause of stress in employees.  Here are five practical steps that managers can take to make the process easier.

  1. Awareness – recognize that when change occurs, you will encounter an emotional reaction.  Understanding that this is common will help you to be more objective.
  2. Support – surround yourself with people who care about you and your success. Tap into resources in your community, work, and relationships that can assist you in moving forward.
  3. Purpose and perspective –Take time to explore what is truly important to you, and put the change into perspective.
  4. Esteem – Realize that change can cause you to doubt yourself.  Hold onto your self esteem, do things that will bring you a positive outlook and use positive affirmations and self talk.
  5. Control – Focus on what you can control and know what you cannot control.

Change is an Unavoidable Reality

Whether you are talking about a new vision, boss, product, policy, opportunity, or organizational structure, change is happening. Most of these changes need the buy-in and loyalty of large numbers of employees whose commitment is necessary for successful implementation.

Without their participation, planned changes can easily derail resulting in low morale, reduction in productivity, lost opportunities, and disappointment due to unmet expectations, not to mention waste of time and revenue.

Change Management Strategies

As a leader you need to know how to:

  • Define and understand the external situational and internal psychological elements of change
  • Move the organization through the four critical stages of change (preparation, planning, process, implementation)
  • Navigate resistance to change
  • Build confidence in preparation for change
  • Communicate effectively the need for the change and the process to make it happen
  • Celebrate milestones in the change process

To find out more about the MANAGING CHANGE workshop email

Posted in Change Management

Gretchen Rubin on Happiness and Success

Gretchen Rubin, May 2011

Gretchen Rubin, May 2011

Gretchen is one of the most thought provoking and influential writers on happiness and success. Her book, the Happiness Project became an instant New York Times bestseller.  She chronicles her adventure of twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.  An entertaining, but challenging concept for leaders.

For more information:

Posted in Self-leadership Tagged with: ,

Stedman Graham Promotes Business Success

Stedman Graham is chairman and CEO of Stedman Graham & Associates, management and marketing consulting that specializes in the corporate and educational markets.  Recently, Stedman has published a New York Times Best Seller, “Identity.  Your Passport to Success.”  Although, Stedman is often seen with Ophra, he is definitely a powerful leader on his own with informative concepts around leadership.

For further information:

Posted in Self-leadership

Dr. Paul Hersey – Situational Leadership


Dr. Paul Hersey, August 2009

Dr. Paul Hersey was the Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Leadership Studies.  Dr. Hersey is internationally recognized as a leading authority on training and development and the Situational Leadership Model he developed has been used to train more than 14 million managers across the globe and is deployed in 70% of Fortune 500 companies.

For further information:

The Situational Leadership ® is a powerful model that is easy to follow, and it works! Dr. Joan Deeks is a certified Situational Leadership ® program trainer for companies who are licensed with the Center for Leadership Studies.

Posted in Leadership

Beyond Money – Effective Methods for Rewarding Employees

Three RsThink money is the best way to reward your employees? Think again. Most studies show that employees don’t actually perform better for more money.

Consider the following “Three Rs” when intending to reward employees:


Which accomplishments merit rewards?

  • High level of performance
  • Innovation
  • Saving time and money

For example, you want to reward an employee who went above and beyond expectations in order to reach the company’s financial results.


What motivates employees?

Different people are motivated by different things – “different strokes for different folks”.  What works for one employee doesn’t always for another. Make sure to know your employees in order to understand what motivates them. Rewards should be thoughtfully selected.


What kinds of rewards are effective?

While managers most often want to give their employees monetary rewards, such as merit increase and bonus, studies have shown that non-monetary rewards are actually more effective in driving loyalty and engagement.

If you are only using cash, you are missing the emotional side. Non-monetary rewards can stimulate emotions to make them more memorable and are the best drivers of positive behaviour and results.

Examples of non-monetary rewards:

  • Learning and development opportunities
  • Leadership attention
  • Flexible hours
  • Days off
  • Praise from manager

So next time you intend to reward an employee, consider the Three Rs. Tie rewards clearly to performance (Result). Use different strokes for different folks (Recipient). Make sure that you are not missing the emotional side, i.e. use non-monetary Rewards.

Posted in Employee Engagement

What Makes Managers Great?

What makes managers greatLike most of us, you have probably had a manager who played a positive role in your career and a manager who made you want to quit your job. So what distinguishes a great manager from the rest? According to Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, authors of “Being the Boss”, the answer lies in 3 imperatives: manage yourself, manage your network, and manage your team.

Manage yourself

Management begins with you. You must be trustworthy and have the authority to be able to influence others. Effective managers consider authority as a tool for helping others become more productive. People also need to trust you, i.e. believe that they can count on you to do the right thing. It is important that people believe in your competence as a manager and in your character as a person.

Manage your network

Managing a network means creating relationships with people you depend on but don’t formally control. Are you ready and able to develop the organizational influence to get what your team needs? Organizations by their nature are political environments. To succeed in them, you must proactively create a network of personal contacts inside and outside your organization and then use those contacts to get the information and support you need to achieve your goals. Make sure you don’t forget your boss as he/she plays a pivotal role in your success.

Manage your team

Great managers build and lead an effective team – a group of people who work collectively for a common purpose. It is important to communicate to your team the goals and a plan how to reach those goals.  Success will depend on the ability of your team to develop new skills and competences. Although you manage a team, always remember that team members still want to be seen and cared about as individuals. Your challenge is to mange individuals in the context of a team.

It takes time and effort to become a great manager. You have to acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, values and emotional competence. But the time and effort are worth it. Great managers make a positive difference to the company as well as to the members of the team. And wouldn’t you rather be remembered for that as opposed to being the reason for someone’s wish to quit.

Posted in Management

Millennials in the Workplace

millennials_in_the_workplaceThe Millennial Generation (also referred to as Generation Y or Net Generation), born during the 1980s and early 1990s, has joined three earlier generations in the workplace – Generation X,  Baby Boomers and a few not-yet-retired Traditionalists. As the Millennial generation is replacing the Baby Boomers who are retiring, it is important to know what appeals to them and how this will impact your corporate culture.

Characteristics (FACTS) of Millennials:


Millennials place a high value on freedom. They ask “How will this job fit in to my social life?” and are willing to trade security and stability for the ability to better integrate their professional and personal lives.  Flexible working schedules accommodate this aspect.

Appreciation of Diversity

The Millennial Generation is a diverse and inclusive generation. Millennials are open to global experiences, especially if such experiences provide career challenges and learning opportunities such as an international assignment. Also, having been taught inclusiveness from an early age, they tend to be more tolerant of other races, nationalities and gender preferences.


Millennials are typically group-oriented and work well in team situations. They see their social habits – connecting, talking and sharing – as natural behaviours that they will bring into the workplace. Having grown up in an interactive world, Millennials enjoy a conversation, not a lecture.

Technological Savvy

The Millennial Generation is the first generation to grow up with the Internet accessible to them throughout their lives. Millennials see communication devices as recreational items that are constantly available at their fingertips. They prefer instant messaging and texting versus e-mail because it is more efficient and informal. Employers have to provide a strong technology platform to satisfy Millennials.

Social Responsibility

Many Millennials have a strong desire to contribute to their communities. They value company support (e.g. paid sabbaticals) for volunteer opportunities and will seek organizations with corporate social responsibility values that reflect their own.

Keep the FACTS of this generation in mind and, if necessary, adjust corporate policies, procedures, leadership style and recruiting. The battle for the best available talent will be fierce and the responsibility for attracting and keeping talents rests with managers like you.

Posted in Change Management, Leadership, Management

Leadership Qualities to Thrive in Times of Uncertainty

Leadership Qualities, April 2013We live in an uncertain world where change is constant. Yet some leaders are still able to thrive in tough times because of their distinctive behaviour. One compelling story of leadership in a tough environment is the 1911-12 race to the South Pole. Amundsen demonstrated certain leadership qualities that set him apart from Scott. As a result, Amundsen and his team arrived 5 weeks ahead of Scott and the crew would return home safely. Sadly, Scott and his team perished on the return journey.

Here are six leadership qualities you need to thrive in today’s ever-changing world:

1. Enable others to act

Leadership is a team effort. Collaboration is a critical competency for achieving success. At the heart of collaboration is trust. Great leaders see the potential in others and help them to succeed.

2. Never give up

Do not allow difficult circumstances to crush your spirit or your focus to serve others who depend on you.

3. Responsibility for your actions

Eagerness to accept responsibility for your actions wins respect from your team. Great leaders do not complain. They reject that forces outside their control will determine their results. Instead of making excuses, they make progress. They accept full responsibility for their own fate.

4. Integrity

Real leaders are honest in their words and actions. People will only trust a leader when they know that the person is truthful and ethical.

5. Commitment to goals

Particularly in tough times, it is important to keep working towards goals. As the business environment changes rapidly, frequent adjustments to the course may be necessary that can be a distraction when viewed from a long-term perspective. Great leaders manage to do both; keep afloat amidst a storm and stay focused on the long-term goals. Although some things are out of your control, you can still set a tangible goal that keeps you and your team moving forward.

6. Humility

The best leaders remain humble. They know that they can’t do it alone and are willing to accept that someone else might have a better idea. With sincere credit to others they get extraordinary things done.

In uncertain times, great leaders are desperately needed. ENRICH yourself with these leadership qualities and remember the quote by management expert Jim Collins: “We cannot predict the future. But we can create it.”

Posted in Leadership

Workplace Flexibility

Workplace Flexibility

The news of Yahoo! CEO’s ban on working from home brought one topic to the front page of all major news outlets: Workplace Flexibility.

Providing flexible work arrangements is one of the tactics most often identified for attracting and retaining employees. This makes sense when considering the demographic and economic changes:

  • Aging Baby Boom generation
  • Stagnating incomes
  • Dual-income families and single parents
  • Delayed childbearing
  • Increased responsibility for eldercare

Baby Boomers eligible for retirement may want, or for financial reasons need, to continue working but would like to do so at reduced hours and on a more flexible schedule.  Nowadays, more families have to also juggle paid work and unpaid caregiving for their children and elder relatives. Working parents trying to meet substantial work and family demands feel stressed, resulting in negative implications for the individual’s health and productivity.

“Work is what we do, not where we are.” With today’s improved technology, working from home has become easier. But remember, telecommuting is only one part of workplace flexibility. There are a wide range of flexible work arrangements a company could offer:

  • Flex time
  • Reduced time
  • Time off / personal days
  • Compressed workweek

While more and more workplaces are offering some kind of flexible work arrangements, many employees are not using them in fear of negative career repercussions, such as fewer promotions and salary penalties. Findings from a 2011/2012 study by Linda Duxbury and Christopher Higgins showed that the use of flexible work arrangements has declined in the past two decades while work demands have increased for Canadian white-collar workers.

What needs to change is the culture of those workplaces that value employees who put work ahead of family. Workplace flexibility will likely prove ineffective without the managers’ endorsement. Managers will have to communicate to the employees what is available and then implement workplace flexibility as a management tool. It is important to build it into your accountability system and start incorporating flexibility practices into the daily lives of employees.

While Yahoo! may have had reasons for wanting to restrict working from home, providing some flexibility is essential for a workplace in the 21st century in order to meet the needs of employees. If managed well, flexibility can lead to positive business results.

Posted in Leadership, Management
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